Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I will be dealing with a family crisis for the rest of the week so I will not be posting regular pieces.  I hope to continue posting soon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Olivier Messiaen: Twenty Visions Of The Infant Jesus - I The Vision of the Father

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

Hate Mail - Why Are You Posting Those Christmas Trees?

Because his paintings of decaying corpses and amputated legs aren't as seasonal.  

Geesh, imagine, I'm not supposed to post some of the best paintings of Christmas trees, now. 

Hyman Bloom - Christmas Tree

Image result for hyman bloom christmas tree

Saint Nicholas Day

RMJ has a good post about St. Nicholas that's worth reading.   I just wanted to put up another image of the real saint instead of the cheap imitation.   Every time you put up a dark-skinned Saint Nicholas you make a FOX host cry. 

Here's another:
I can't resist putting up another.

Image result for st nicholas oldest icons

Michael Flynn is Floridly And Dangerously Insane

Back in August, after Ben Carson suggested that the Gold Star parents Donald Trump had insulted apologize to him, I said.

I think the term "floridly insane" is the opening entry for naming what's wrong with Dr. Carson.

It's clear that anyone in Ben Carson's family who might be lucid and might care about him should have made some move to have him checked out for dementia and either had him treated or ushered him into retirement from public life before someone else did it in a less kindly manner.  But he's being appointed to the Trump regime and the inevitable crack up will be public, will be damaging to him and others, many many others.

However, the florid insanity of Dr. Carson is peanuts compared to the even more floridly insane Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been named to be Trumps National Security Adviser.  While the agency Carson is being put in charge of can cause damage, to have someone as totally and obviously insane as Michael Flynn in charge of the agency that is supposed to watch out for our national security is massively dangerous.  How insane is he? Well, we don't know how bad it gets because his every psychotic thought doesn't become public.  What has become public is extremely disturbing.

But Flynn himself has used social media to promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months — pushing dubious factoids at least 16 times since Aug. 9, according to a POLITICO review of his Twitter posts. Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has "secretly waged war” on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a “jihadi” who “laundered” money for Muslim terrorists.

Now some say Flynn’s fondness for spreading fake news casts doubt on his fitness to serve as the White House’s national security adviser, suggesting that he either can’t spot a blatant falsehood or is just ideologically bent to believe the worst of his perceived enemies.

The flak began flying anew after Sunday’s shooting at a Washington pizza restaurant that had been targeted by false, internet-fed rumors accusing it of being the epicenter of a satanic child-trafficking conspiracy involving Clinton and her allies. Flynn had twice used Twitter to promote similar, only slightly less outrageous hoaxes in the past month, including a claim that Clinton’s campaign manager takes part in occult rituals in which bodily fluids are consumed.

Those were far from isolated tweets for Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

What is especially disturbing is the absolute fact that Donald Trump is not much more attune with reality than the guy who is supposed to advise him on dangers to our national security.  And it gets worse when you consider the second in command,   These are, seriously, people who could get many if not all of us killed.

Our Constitution, our history, our traditions, our thinking is clearly not able to keep up with the level of threat that the selection of Donald Trump by the electoral college presents us HE HAS ALREADY PROVED OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT HE IS NOT ONLY UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT, HIS IS DANGEROUSLY UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT.

That our Constitution does not have provisions to protect us from this is even worse than the fact  that it didn't prevent him winning the election though he lost the vote.   And few if any in the media or in public life are addressing the catastrophe that we are on the cusp of.   Every public institution that should have prevented this has failed to, this election has ripped open a weakness in our Constitution that is not only dangerous, if it is not fixed, fast, it should prove fatal to it.

I think that we are in real danger of having to face a violent, fascist government and the violent reaction to that which will result.  I don't think it's impossible that a new and far more bloody civil war might result from the government being in the hands of the clearly insane and corrupt.

Surely, his colleagues in the military know that Michael Flynn is not only insane but dangerously insane.  National Security Adviser to a stupid and crazy president should not be in the hands of someone who is going to feed Donald Trump's own insanity.

Zoltan Kocsis plays Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy and Bartok

Here's a recording of a recital he gave when he was 18, just after he won the Beethoven Competition of Hungarian Radio.  If I'd heard it I'd probably have given up.  Entirely mature and youthful at the same time.  Listening to him playing Beethoven is like falling in love with him for the first time all over again.

No Lie Is Too Refuted To Not Be Repeated - 3 Comments


steve simelsDecember 6, 2016 at 11:09 AM
So somebody died at age 64 and you're broken up? Get over yourself, nobody lives forever.

Or so you told me when I had the temerity to be upset at the death of Prince.


The Thought CriminalDecember 6, 2016 at 11:10 AM
We went through that before, you lying vulgarian. I said nothing of the sort.


The Thought CriminalDecember 6, 2016 at 11:13 AM
Here's the link:

Update:  Stupy went into pop music because he wanted to attract groupies but he couldn't even get to twosies.   He's still trying to get onesies right.

Update 2:  An intellectual at Eschaton is anyone who has actually read what they're talking about. Well really, it's gotten to the point it's anyone who watched the movie instead of reading the book.   One of the smarter ones who still go there once told me that Inherit The Wind was practically a documentary.

Zoltan Kocsis Died Exactly A Month Ago

I was shocked to find out today that the great Hungarian pianist, composer and conductor,  Zoltan Kocsis died on November 6th.   He'd been having heart trouble for the past five years or so, it shouldn't have been a shock to read the old news of his death this morning, but it is.  You can't help but feel strange when someone you remember as being so young and vital and younger than you are has died while you didn't but that's what I'm thinking just now.   When I read he was 64  when he died the first thought that came to mind was that Bela Bartok was the same age when he died,  Kocsis was renowned for his brilliant and faithful interpretation of Bartok's music, clearly the result of fidelity to the score and his study of the recordings that Bartok left of his music.  He also was taught by and knew many of the musicians who had studied with Bartok.

Here is a live recording of him playing the Bartok Sonata, certainly one of the best performances of the piece in its history.  In the first movement the part where there are so many voices in different registers of the keyboard going at one time is jaw dropping in its relentless drive.  The second movement with its climaxes of blazing, overpowering light amid the glowing quiet passages and the powerful optimism of the last rondo movement ..... it would be better to hear it than to read about it.

But Kocsis was more than "just" a Bartok interpreter, he played a wide range of music with both great originality and great integrity.   I'll post more of those performances in the coming days.

I'm Through With The Secular Left And Its Insane Media I'm Through With Secularism That Serves Fascism

The "post-truth" world that Trump's supporters are gloating over, much to the professed horror of some in the media is something the media, itself brought about.  It asked to be able to lie without consequence, it was handed that right by the courts, the media lied and convinced large numbers of people that their lies - often told to be salacious and audience attracting - were true and made someone like Donald Trump not only electable but inevitable when an effective margin of voters are convinced of those lies.  NOW the media is complaining about the "post-truth" world that they made?

I wish I had the time to do the research into the legal thinkers behind the ideas that led to those lines of legal decisions and what their wider philosophy is.  I know a lot of its champions, especially those in the media,  have been atheists.  I can't help but suspect that it's a manifestation of the common, a-religious bent of the intellectual establishment which has become pervasive in the past centuries and nearly uniform in our own time.  You certainly can't maintain an indifference to the need for the truth and the reality that lies serve no good purpose*  if you have any moral sense at all.   It's clear that those who have given us "post-truth" are effectively amoral.  Egalitarian democracy can't survive in an amoralized country, made that way by being fed a diet of lies.

I wish I could talk to the woman who has been much in the news - no doubt now they've done her, she and her issue will fade into dim memory.   I mean the woman who voted for Trump and is now upset that he's appointed the foreclosure king Steven Mnuchin to be Secretary of the Treasury.  Mnuchin made a huge fortune by aggressively foreclosing on mortgages in the most heartless of manners, one very elderly lady lost her house due to a short payment of 27 cents.  The Trump voter had her property foreclosed on by being told she had to skip three payments to qualify for an adjustment in the terms of her mortgage when it was a ploy to allow them to foreclose on her.  In the interview I heard with her she rather disdainfully said there was no way she would have voted for Hillary Clinton.   I had to wonder what she listened to as news, what the source of her clear disdain for Hillary Clinton was.   How much and what of the quarter of a century of lies carried by the American media from alleged top, The New York Times, NPR, PBS, to the bottom feeders that so often even the most elite of media carried as "it's being said".   What made her vote for Trump, a man anyone with any sense of what is true and what isn't could see as a total phony and liar and fraud, a man whose misogyny and sleazy real estate practices were out there but certainly lost in the wall to wall coverage given on his terms?  She clearly depended on what the American media told her about Hillary Clinton over the past decades.  That media is what brought us Donald Trump and it was through their decades of "post-truth" practice.


Now, after a whole campaign season of its own Hillary Clinton slamming, sometimes lying,  and the promotion of "alternatives" the secularist lefty media are moaning over the harvest they also helped sow.   I'll forego lots of it, largely because there is so little of the lefty media I can stand looking at just now.  But I saw an article up at the lower end lefty market that Salon occupies, pointing out that it's just about certain that Jill Stein voters in swing states actually did get Trump the electoral college.   If that's behind Stein going through the motions of getting recounts, I don't know.  I do know that those same lefty magazines were still carrying the most idiotic articles about why it was principled to not vote for the only woman who had a chance of preventing Trump.   Some of those magazines and websites have lost any credibility I'd have once granted them,  some of them I've seen do this one election cycle after another for decades.  One of those which I've decided has no credibility at all, now is In These Times, though it's hardly alone.   There are some lefty magazines and websites I won't link to because they've been so irresponsible this year,  Salon and In These Times and Alternet are three of those.

After watching them aid the election of George W. Bush and now Donald Trump by promoting not voting for the only real alternatives to them,  after watching them do that for virtually the entire period of the Republican ascendancy, you would think they'd have figured out that's stupid by now.  Only they haven't.  Reading In These Times and its articles about what's needed is a revolutionary radical lefty party, Joel Bliefuss and his crew are just one tiny tub in a fleet of ships of fools.  I don't expect that we'll find any of them have really learned anything.  What we need is a real left, the secular one is a total and complete flop.

I've lost my faith in the media that thinks its colleagues should be able to lie with impunity.  That pretty much covers all of it, most of all the lefty-secular media which doesn't serve democracy or a real agenda of the left.   A real left-media would want those lies that enable fascism stopped in view of the triumph those lies have given the fascists, repeatedly, as they bleat out the old line First Amendment interpretation that allowed that.

I've given up the lefty-secularist religion of my young adulthood because it has failed through the contradictions it was always riddled with.   There is nothing more obvious from that failure that the real program of the real left depends on morality in the law, in the government in society and, yes, even in the media.  And the past half-century of experimenting with amorality in all of those proves it only enables fascist depravity.

Political ideologies are served by those things that promote what they are made of, amorality serves fascism, democracy can't be anything but damaged by it.  That is true, most of all, for egalitarian democracy, the only durable form of democracy.  Any alleged leftist ideology that is served by lies or which promotes the ability to lie is a fraud, they are fascism in a mask.  That is true even when they do so because "First Amendment."   That is the slogan that post-truth rode to victory this year.

*  Before anyone can raise the ruse about the necessity of lying to the Nazis about where the Jewish children are hiding, that lie is made necessary through the evil of the Nazis.  Of course in that kind of case a lie serves a moral purpose but that purpose is made necessary because of the lies that produce Nazism.  If the original lies hadn't been told the scenario requiring a lie wouldn't have existed and telling someone where children were hidden would not be wrong in that way.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Before There Was Face Book There Was Two-Faced Book - Hate Mail

Imagine that, the gall of a lefty socialist, guy from a family of union members would have trouble with the idea of supporting Jeff Bezos and his Amazon sweat shop that is notorious for grinding mistreatment of workers, making billions by squeezing his employees to death.   As far as I'm concerned you can tell the Brit-atheist mean girl of Eschaton she's as phony as Duncan is.  She figured she was insulting me but the only thing she's risking is making me feel smug.    

If you hadn't guessed Duncan Black apparently put up one of his whiny posts telling the phony-lefties who populate his rump chat room community to buy stuff from Amazon so he can get a cut of the profits.  If American democracy and life on the planet depended on them boycotting something the world would have to go so they could get their free shipping under Amazon-Plus.   

Hey, Dunc, when's the last time you struck a pose of supporting decent jobs and workers rights?  Well, "struck" might not be the right word.  When's the last time you did a pantomime of going through the motions?

Update:  I'm told it's called "Amazon-Prime" as if I'm supposed to feel ashamed that I forgot the name of something I wouldn't use because of the way it treats workers and for many other reasons.   Nope, try again.  

Hyman Bloom - Christmas Tree

Gary Burton The New Quintet - Brownout

Gary Burton (vibraphone)
Mick Goodrick (guitar)
Abraham Laboriel (bass)
Harry Blazer (drums)

The composition is one of Gary Burton's rare piece.  Abraham Laboriel on the bass solo is incredible.

Flora Purim - Open Your Eyes You Can Fly

GEORGE DUKE Keyboards, \
AIRTO Percussion,

Alphonso Johnson's bass line on this is also great, even legendary.   Chick Corea wrote the song.

More Stephen Colbert

Listening to that short exchange between Stephen Colbert and Fr. James Martin that appeared by magic in the Youtube sidebar led me to another thing that appeared in the sidebar for it, a longer interview with Stephen Colbert with Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB,   I've heard Colbert in interview before and knew he was not only really funny but extremely intelligent and, even rarer, well-informed but this a really impressive performance.  

For example, hearing him explain C.S. Lewis's four kinds things that provke laughter and what is behind them them, starting at about 24:30 is really something.  It covers not only the difference between intelligent comedy and the crap that most of what is called comedy and humor for about the past three decades has been. Colbert's understanding obviously informs his work and shows the difference between someone like him and most of the jerks who aren't really funny but who get laughs.  

In flippancy no joke is actually made the attitude of a joke is made, is copped by everybody there it does not increase affection.  It distances people it armors the soul against joy and it deadens the intellect

That description covers, easily, most of what is presented as humor and comedy, today.  It was the kind of stuff which was produced by the kind of people who held nothing as sacred, who used shock instead of intelligence and who not only had a fear of warm human relationships but who disdained them.  

He also talks about what he'd said was his favorite verse from the Bible 

Do Not Worry
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34

In the interview posted last night, Stephen Colbert pointed out that when Jesus said, "Do not worry" it was a commandment. He also said he wasn't that good about following it.  I have to admit that if he's bad at it, I'm ten times worse at doing it.  I worry about everything.  So much to work on.  

Both St. Nicholas and Jesus Would Likely Have Been Stopped For Walking While Black In Trump's America

That On Being interview with Fr. James Martin I linked to late last night had a passage in which Martin talked about how grim and grouchy so much of Christian iconography is.  That's something I complained about here a few years ago as I was looking for an old icon of St. Nicholas and all of them looked like they had a toothache or a bad back or were just seriously grouchy.   It's not very good advertising for the Gospel which is, literally, good news.   None of the saintly people I've known have every been so grumpy, like me.

But, reading at NTodd's, a post touching on the annual racist fight claiming that Santa Claus is white, I decided to go in a different direction, to see how North European Aryan, how much like Ann Coulter, the early Icons of St. Nicholas of Myra and can say that the oldest images of him and those closest to where he lived usually show someone who, in the United States, would be considered black or, certainly, not white.  Not by FOX - Coulter standards of racism.

Image result for st. nicholas oldest icon

Which, of course, made me curious about the oldest images of Jesus, especially those made close to where he lived, in time and place, to see how people imagined him.

Image result for st callisto catacomb icon jesus

This image from the St. Callisto catacomb is one of the oldest which clearly indicates how the artist imagined Jesus.

Image result for oldest christian icons turkey

This is the Christ Pantokrator  icon from the Monestary of St. Catherine in Sinai, considered the oldest such icon known.   He'd definitely get screened or stopped if not shot for walking while black.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

This one is from a 4th century villa belonging to Constantine.

This detail from 4th century Syria, shows a darker Jesus between lighter but the still far from lily white Peter and Paul

Image result for Christ Between Peter and Paul, 4th century

It's interesting to look at the pictures that show how the earliest Christians thought of Jesus, of the saints, of the figures from the Bible and early church history and, generally, the older and the closer in geography to the actual locations of the events, the less likely those figures are to be depicted as white.  Certainly not white by contemporary American definitions of that.  Certainly not as white as the slave-holder favoring Clement Clark Moore*  thought of the bastardized, corruption of a great saint from present day Turkey.  Certainly not the peroxide-Aryan - racist cabloid version of them.   Here's a more modern image that is closer to those earliest ones.

Image result for jesus icon 21st century woman

And another that I really like, Janet Mackenzie's controversial Jesus of the People.

 Image result for Jesus depicted as a black woman for a new millennium

* That filthy rich-socially elite, pre-Ivy Leaguer jerk both held slaves and opposed the abolition of slavery in New York but it didn't keep him from being a complete hypocrite on the issue when it could be used politically.   There's no way he'd have gotten St. Nicholas right.  

A Government of Demented Media Stars And Easily Influenced Attention Deficient Children

Donald Trump's announcement of Ben Carson to head The Department of Health and Human Services shows how insane the Republican president-elect is.  Ben Carson proved during the campaign and after he dropped out that there is good reason to suspect he is suffering mental impairment that would lead anyone who really cared about him to worry about dementia.  He has nothing in his long past career as a surgeon to prepare him to run such a department, he has said nothing in his public career in Republican wacky politics that leads anyone who has listened to him think he is anything but entirely unfit to be confirmed for the position.

I just got done hearing what the political huckster Armstrong Williams said about him and his appointment on NPR and it was such a load of crap that the absence of anything better for his own shill could say in his behalf can only prove that there is nothing better to recommend him.   A good part of the interview with Armstrong had to deal with his own statements pointing out that Carson was unfit for such a job.  In TV-talk fashion, his backtracking was transparently dishonest and obviously insincere.  

We are being governed by what results from the Hollywood PR - tabloid-cabloids replacement for the reporting of fact.  That is what, in fact, dominates our entire media, high end to low.   That is what you get when you remove the discipline of them getting sued for lying and having sufficient standards they have to meet to keep broadcasting licenses are abolished because "free press".  The country was better informed when Walter Cronkite read them actual news for 20 minutes, between commercials, than it does with the cabloids and even such as the entirely degenerated, obviously Republican favoring NPR blaring lies and spin at us all day long.   Democracy reached its highest points of achievement when the effective media,  TV and radio, were under those requirements, liable to be sued if they lied and operated under broadcasting codes of conduct.  We are living with the results when they can just do whatever they want to.

As so many of those who the media lied into voting for Trump are already learning things such as he is appointing the people who cheated them out of their homes, I can't see any way for this snake oil operation to not fail spectacularly, though as NPR has proved before the election and after, the entire American media has been in on it and will continue to be in on the fraud.  The first order of business for them will be to assign blame for everything the Republican-fascists do to Democrats and other groups to protect the fascist government they are responsible for foisting on a misinformed, demoralized population.

I strongly suspect that there are large numbers of people who work in the government, in the military, who see what is coming and know better than just about anyone what a catastrophe is waiting for us in the hyper Burlusconiesque Trump regime.  Only the degenerate media titan Burlusconi was in charge of a country which had nothing like the power or role that the United States has in the world.  If, for example, a group of his aids with a financial interest in Taiwan had arranged the kind of call that Trump's did a few days back, the international implications of it wouldn't have had heads of state making frantic calls to get reassurances that it didn't mark a major change in policies that would destabilize an entire region.  One thing that I think has resulted from that is that the Chinese leadership now know how dangerous it is for there to be a puppet of Putin in the American White House.  What that could mean for our economy and for the lives of billions, who knows.

I hope the people who will leak information that will expose the real catastrophe and crimes of the Trump regime choose wisely who they leak to.  There aren't many venues of the American media I'd trust.  They've all been pretty much in on installing Trump or are too cowardly and corrupt to have effectively prevented it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Know That You Are God's Beloved Child

I woke up this morning in a lot of pain, my back is still out and I exacerbated it by doing something to my bad shoulder.   So, I woke up this morning and I was intending to write something not about eugenics but I'm not up to it.  I listened to Krista Tippett's interiew with Fr. James Martin, the unedited version and there were so many worthwhile things to look at more closely that I looked at the transcript of the edited down show and several of the things I most liked in the full interview were edited out, they had to cut something because just about all of it was great.   If I were less achy and cranky I'd have listened to the passages I liked and typed them out but not when I feel like this.   So, it's getting late at night and I'm just going to post a link to the unedited version. I will call your attention to the story James Martin tells at about 1:13 when his spiritual director told him to meditate on what would happen if you turned the question of Jesus around and asked him,  "Who do you say that I am?"   I'll leave it to you to listen to the answer he got and how he got it.

I might go over some particular parts of the interview later this week.  I liked his jokes near the end of it.  Or you can hear him with Stephen Colbert:

In other news, I downloaded plans to make a cheap, home-made Japanese soaking tub.  I don't know which is more likely that I'll do, the tub or the transcript but I can tell you which one I wish I were sitting in right now.  I'll try to be less cranky or, if not, more silent.

Oh, yeah, and you should really catch what James Martin says about Advent at about 1:28.

Update:  Well, yeah, even assholes are children of God.  Even people who tell assholes that they're being assholes.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe - Before I Die

Stars: Mavor Moore, Don Francks, Cec Linder, Frank Perry, Alfie Scott

Special Guest Stars: Jane Eastwood, August Shellenburg, Maria Loma

Stars: Mavor Moore, Don Francks, Cec Linder, Frank Perry, Alfie Scott

Special Guest Stars: Jackie Buroughs, Brian George, Arch MacDonald

Wow, You Really Dug To The Bottom of The Barrel Unfortunately It's Tripe

I am sent this decade old post from P.Z. Myers in refutation of what I said.

John Wilkins is fighting the philosophical and historical fight against the Darwin’s Deadly Legacy nonsense with an excellent summary of the course of the eugenics movement. I especially liked this quote from Dobzhansky:

The eugenical Jeremiahs keep constantly before our eyes the nightmare of human populations accumulating recessive genes that produce pathological effects when homozygous. These prophets of doom seem to be unaware of the fact that wild species in the state of nature fare in this respect no better than man does with all the artificiality of his surroundings, and yet life has not come to an end on this planet. The eschatological cries proclaiming the failure of natural selection to operate in human populations have more to do with political beliefs than with scientific findings.

If you don’t know who Theodosius Dobzhansky was, he was one of the founders of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and was far, far more influential on evolutionary thinking than either Haeckel or Hitler. Scientific leaders were calling this stuff nonsense before Hitler tried to invoke his Final Solution.

Well, to start with,  I didn't rely on any secondary, tertiary souces to make my arguments, I didn't use anything but the primary documentation except in one post because the necessary material wasn't available in English.   I used the words of Darwin, Haeckel, Galton, Leonard Darwin, etc. to make my arguments.  So bringing up some fundamentalist propaganda is irrelevant to what I've said here.   Though I will note that some, more scholarly fundamentalists have done what no one in the St. Darwin industry would seem to have done, read what he said and read what those whose writings on the relevant topics said in the works Darwin cited.  They might be wrong about the fact of evolution, many of them are right about the role of Darwin in the history of eugenics which includes the Nazi genocides.  I have yet to meet one of Darwin's defenders who seems to have read The Descent of Man - his work most relevant to the issue, and whose knowledge of On The Origin of Species is anything but quite incomplete and opportunistic.

Of course I know who Theodosius Dobzhansky was, he was a great geneticist in his day, the teacher of one of my heroes, Richard Lewontin, who, in turn was the teacher of Jerry Coyne.  I wouldn't blame either of them for Jerry, just to make sure no one thinks I would.

I will continue by pointing out that as Dobzhansky was Ukranian, a member of one of those racial groups who, under Nazi eugenics, was slated for either extermination as certainly as Jews were or, if they were kept alive, were to be trained to be slaves to their German masters, his counter-eugenic thinking would never have been considered.  Instead of being a distinguished university graduate and professor, such slaves were to be taught no more than how to write their name and count to 500.   I am quite certain that his scientific influence in Nazi Germany exists entirely in the imagination of such ahistorical dolts as Myers.   So such scientific thinking had already been swamped by the interpretation of Natural Selection which informed Nazi science and the eugenics program in place and which would soon fulfill the dream of so many eugenicists before then of murdering the disabled and going on from that starter program to full fledged industrialized mass murder.

Dobzhansky, eminent as he was, as right in his condemnation of eugenics as he was, didn't have nearly the impact even among his scientific colleagues as Myers claims.  I think it's safe to say that more of the prominent geneticists at the time he said that, 1937, were eugenicists as so many of them would remain in the post-war period and continuing til today.  The roll call of eminent geneticist-eugenicists even during and even after the war would include R. A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Francis Crick, James Watson, if you want to consider him a geneticist, Myers' friend, Richard Dawkins has flirted with overt promotion of eugenics.  You can add all kinds of others from related and unrelated fields of science, even such people as Linus Pauling.  There's even a quote floating around from Dobzhansky that, if accurate, is far more positive about the "core" of eugenics than that quote above, though I haven't read it in his book and I won't accept the characterization of it until I do.

But all of that is, actually, beside the point, there is no doubt that the mainstream of German biology and the central authorities it relied on to construct its racial theories, its rankings of human beings in terms of "fitness" or value, both among various ethnic and national groups and within the German population (the basis of their murder of the disabled) was solidly Darwinian.  Darwin repeatedly talked about the benefits of murdering the disabled, especially when they were children.  He spoke blithly of the great day he anticipated, when the superior would have eradicated inferior ethnic groups, some of which he named, some which he implied with a mild, would-be wise, wink and a nod.  Read The Descent of Man and read it for yourself, look up his glowing, positive citations of Haeckel, Galton, Greg and others promoting those and other ideas that were useful to the Nazis.

There is absolutely no question that thinking was promoted by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man and in his full and fully informed endorsement of Ernst Haeckel's and others' eugenics, including Haeckel's articulation of the idea that the deaths of those deemed inferior, including deaths at the hands of their "superiors" was a benefit to the entire human species.  There is no changing that, it is there in Darwin's books, in the things he endorsed and promoted.  The very generation of Nazi scientists who constructed the biological theories that were the basis of the genocides were thoroughly steeped in Darwin and Haeckel and Galton (whose eugenics Darwin also and for all time endorsed).   Alfred Ploetz, Eugen Fischer, etc. were explicit in stating where they got those ideas from.   Anyone who believes that Theodosius Dobzhansky, a young American geneticist of Ukranian ethnicity and Soviet education would have more of an influence on the Nazi scientific establishment than Ernst Haeckel, widely read even by non-scientists in Germany,  from whom their generation learned so much of their relevant thinking is either lying or they are a total idiot.

Now, I really would rather be trying to fight fascism than going over this again.  My archive is not indexed but it's not hard to do a word search of it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

I'm Beginning To Doubt He Ever Read It - Hate Mail

No, of course I don't expect someone as wedded to their bigotry and ignorance as that to change in their descent into senility.   Some people can change based on what they learn, even very late in life. But not if they're bigots wedded to ignorance.   Such people have more in common with Donald Trump than they would ever want to admit or have anyone notice or mention.  But I have noticed it and I just mentioned it.   As to the Darwinian character of the Nazi murder program,  here's an interesting passage from Shirer's Berlin Diary that Simps seems to have skimmed or skimped.  After a long discussion of the start of the Nazi genocides, the murder of the disabled, he said:

X, a German told me yesterday that relatives are rushing to get their kin out of the private asylums and out of the clutches of the authorities.  He says the Gestapo is doing to death persons who are merely suffering temporary derangement or just plain nervous breakdown.  

What is still unclear to me is the motive for these murders.  Germans themselves advance three:

1. That they are being carried out to save food.
2. That they are done for the purpose of experimenting with new poison gasses and death rays.
3. That they are simply the result of the extreme Nazis deciding to carry out their eugenic and sociological ideas.

The first motive is obviously absurd, since the death of 100,000 persons will not save much food for a nation of 80,000,000.  Besides, there is no acute food shortage in Germany.   The second motive is possible, though I doubt it.  Poison gasses may have been used in putting these unfortunates out of the way, but if so, the experimentation was only incidental.  Many Germans I have talked to think that some new gas which disfigures the body has been used, and that this is the reason why the remains of the victims have been cremated.  But I can get no real evidence of this. 

The third motive seems most likely to me.  For years a group of radical Nazi sociologists who were instrumental in putting through the Reich's sterilization laws have pressed for a national policy of eliminating the mentally unfit.  They say they have disciples among many sociologists in other lands, and perhaps they have.  Paragraph two of the form letter sent the relatives plainly bears the stamp of this sociological thinking:  “In view of the nature of his serious, incurable ailment, his death, which saved him from a lifelong institutional sojourn, is to be regarded merely as a release.”

I will point out that it is an absolute fact that eugenics began, both in English and in German, as a direct development of Darwin's Natural Selection,  that is indisputable as Francis Galton not only said that was what inspired him to invent eugenics but he also published Charles Darwin's glowing endorsement and encouragement of the developing science (pseudo-science though it was) in a letter praising Galton's first major book on the topic.  It is also an incontestable fact that the founder of organized German eugenics, Wilhelm Schallmeyer, explicitly attributed his eugenics to his reading of On the Origin of Species, not on a reading of Galton, so Darwinism was a direct inspiration of eugenics as an organized entity in Germany.   That was certainly common knowledge among educated people of the time.  And, as mentioned, we also have the testimony of his sons, George, Francis, Horace and Leonard to that effect, something which any modern denial cannot sweep away or supersede.

It is also an indisputable fact that by that time sociology as virtually every would-be biological science in the West was thoroughly engrossed in explaining everything in terms of natural selection, the various sects of that faith being the only real difference.   German sociology had certainly established that habit of thought decades before.  And, it is as indisputable that such science sought to put its beliefs about natural selection into application in human populations and society.

I can, and have, documented that Charles Darwin endorsed such ideas as are contained in that form letter in Ernst Haeckel's book, one of the first major works on Darwinism in German, The History of Creation,  saying that Haeckel's book was such a good representation of his own thinking that had he known Haeckel was working on it, he wouldn't have bothered to write The Descent of Man.   I have looked and found no place where Darwin took exception to even the most extreme ideas contained in that book, explicitly attributed by Haeckel to his reading of Darwin.  Haeckel derives all of it from the "materialist monism" the, "final triumph" of which he credits to Charles Darwin.  It is quite possible to find language like that used by the Nazi sociologists in books presented as science by Darwin, by Haeckel and by a line of Darwinian biologists and sociologists, in English and German, starting in the 1860s when On the Origin of Species introduced Darwin's Natural Selection to the world and, especially, in the coming decades as it and such books as The Descent of Man and The History of Creation were widely read by intellectuals, scientists and others, and their explicit claims about the benefit of the deaths of those who were “inferior” for the surviving population became part of Western culture.

Also, there is this.

On December 6, 1940 the Vatican condemned the “mercy killings.”  Responding to the question whether it is illicit for authorities to order the killing of those who, although they have committed no crime worthy of death, nevertheless are considered no longer useful to society or the state because of physical or mental deficiencies, the Sacred Congregation of Holy Office held that “such killings are contrary to both the natural and the divine law.”  It is doubtful if the mass of German Catholics, even if they learned of this statement from Rome, which is improbable, understood what it referred to.  Only a minority in Germany know of the “mercy deaths.”  

Footnote p. 575

I believe this footnote is the only mention of the Vatican in the book.   So Shirer's “definitive account” would seem to have missed the publication of the anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, unusually issued in German to be read in all Catholic churches in 1937, but, then, I don't think he was much of a church goer.  Nor does it seem to get much of the Christian opposition to the Nazis, even as that became ever more dangerous.  Though he mentions some of it, especially things like the Protestant pastor Friedrich von Bodelschwingh who heroically resisted the murder of disabled children under his care and was arrested for it before the Nazis bombed his asylum.

I have my doubts that Simps ever really read the book or that he had sufficient background knowledge to understand large parts of it .  I don't know if Shirer figured on his readership having that or if, perhaps, he didn't fully understand the meaning of some of what he saw.

Update:  Now Simps and his fan base are deriding the knowledge of two of the most eminent and respected historians of the Nazi period and Germany in the period leading up to it, misrepresenting them, which they'd have to because none of them ever heard of them before.

I really do think the time I wasted at Eschaton has been productive because as the smart people left it over the years, the remnant was a real education in why so much of the self-defined "left" is so stupid.  My only regret is that I stuck it out longer than many of them did.